5 Personal Branding Tips to Help Your Job Search

Tips on creating and marketing a unique identity that will take new-employment seekers from hum-drum to high-flying, even in the most challenging economic conditions.

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By Anastasia Belyh

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Finding a job during harsh economic times is a daunting task — when companies are looking to cut costs by laying off workers and when millions are suddenly searching for ways to put themselves in contention for employment. One way of standing out in this sea of applicants is through personal branding, which has become of increasing importance over the last twenty years, and is uniquely vital in the digital age.

Prior, and for multiple decades, creating the right personal image was a task seemingly left to celebrities like athletes and movie stars. In today's world, you can boost both career and appeal by employing a well-crafted personal branding strategy. It helps build trust, portrays you as a professional in your field and can assemble a following that gives you leverage in the market.

Some key components:

1. Show your core values

Your brand should communicate a strong set of values that distinguishes you from competitors. Human resource departments do not typically hire based on credibility and credentials alone: they also want to know if candidates have a personality and approach that's compatible with the company's. It's best, then, to look for potential employers with which you share perspectives, keeping in mind that they generally are in search of empathy, curiosity, collaboration and teamwork skills.

Related: Personal brand: Everything an entrepreneur needs to know

2. Be unique, and creative

One classic mistake many job seekers make is writing a resume that looks and reads the same as those of legions of other candidates. If you want to attract the attention of a recruiter, write one that's unique, and ideally relevant to the position. Express your personality and creativity through this critical background page, which is accomplished by determining the ins and outs of the role you are applying for and packaging yourself as a suitable match. Highlight specific strengths and experiences from projects you have completed, but avoid the temptation of stuffing it with irrelevant accomplishments.

During interviews, you can give yourself a further edge by using storytelling to enhance personal branding. Recount instances that highlight your strengths — perhaps how you solved a difficult problem, followed by how resulting expertise will profit the company.

3. Determine a target audience and pitch to it

One power of personal branding is that it can position you as an expert in a particular area. In harsh economic times, where unemployment is rising, one might assume that this specificity limits chances of employment. I've found that this is simply not true: it boosts chances, in fact. Everyone cannot be your target audience, so it's pivotal to identify who and what that is, then pitch to it. The more targeted a personal brand is, the higher the chances of landing a dream job and negotiating favorable pay. So, create messages that resonate with the right audience — create a magnetic and emotional connection between you and this potential employer.

Related: 10 Tips For Writing An Impressive Resume

4. Grow an online following

Your personal branding strategy should involve growing an online reputation — one that, like your resume, should not be forgettable or lacking in specificity. Investing in SEO can be a great help. The majority of jobs do not make it to online boards; instead, employers may hire from recommendations, of course, but often search-engine potential candidates that match needed criteria. There are several ways you can boost SEO and grow a following simultaneously, such as creating a blog/vlog and sharing valuable content with readers, which they might then choose to share with others. In time, and with enough effort, you can position yourself as among the experts in your field, and attract more job opportunities as a result.

5. Build a network

A network can go a long way towards boosting a personal brand. The more people you know in your industry, the higher the chances of getting job connections. Recommendations from people you know, coupled with your personal branding, can open opportunities that you hadn't even dreamt of prior. And even if you are already well connected, it doesn't hurt to add more people to a network. LinkedIn is a good place to find connections, of course, but don't forget the always critical in-person component, such as trade fairs, industry seminars and meetings, and other events.

Related: 5 Simple Job Hunting Techniques to Land Your Dream Job

Anastasia Belyh

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer

Co-Founder of Cleverism and FounderJar

Anastasia Belyh is a serial entrepreneur with a deep passion for career-path optimization, and she is happy to already help millions of people find their dream jobs.

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